Tuesday 12 December 2017

Comment: Why does Amy Huberman keep striking out in Hollywood?

Actress Amy Huberman is taking on her grittiest role to date in RTE's Striking Out. Picture: Conor Horgan
Actress Amy Huberman is taking on her grittiest role to date in RTE's Striking Out. Picture: Conor Horgan
Amy Huberman and Lacy Moore in Kill Ratio
Amy Huberman at the premiere of Threesome in 2011
Amy Huberman in Comedy Central's Threesome
Amy Huberman's drama ‘Striking Out’ continues on the box
(L to R) Seana Kerslake, Amy Huberman and Laurence O'Fuarain in RTE Two dramedy Can't Cope Won't Cope
Amy Huberman at the IFTAs
Amy Huberman in 'Rewind'
Actress Amy Huberman, winner of Best Actress in a Lead Role for Rewind, at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2011
Amy Huberman in The Stag
Amy Huberman/Instagram

Sasha Brady

Award-winning actress. Ireland's Sweetheart. Style icon. Amy Huberman has been called it all and then-some.

She's one of the most bankable actresses in Ireland and in particular, with RTE, who secured a win with her recent return to the small screen in both Can't Cope Won't Cope and Striking Out - but why isn't that success translating across the Atlantic?

Huberman, a mother-of-two married to retired Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll, is currently in Los Angeles for pilot season again - a time when she and countless other actors flock to Hollywood for a chance at landing a role on the next Sopranos, Good Wife or Big Bang Theory.

The first time Amy set her sights on Tinseltown was in 2012, it was the first time she was negatively portrayed in the press - she landed a lead role in the NBC pilot series Animal Practice, only to be axed by producers several weeks later.

Amy Huberman in LA. Picture: Amy Huberman/Instagram
Amy Huberman in LA. Picture: Amy Huberman/Instagram

It was universally panned by critics and The New York Times described it as the "type of low brow comedy that actually makes you stupider".

As a consolation prize, the show was also scrapped from screens after less than a month on air and it looked like good fortune was on Amy's side after all.

Amy Huberman at the launch of Striking Out at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar. Picture: Andres Poveda
Amy Huberman at the launch of Striking Out at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar. Picture: Andres Poveda

How she describes rejection in acting is largely different to the public persona we see - endless positive energy and successful side ventures, including a jewellery range with Newbridge Silverware, a shoe collection with Bourbon Footwear, a brand ambassador role with Range Rover, not to mention a side gig as a best-selling author.

Speaking of her LA rejection at the time, Amy said hearing 'no' was something she had grown accustomed to over the years. "Listen, I’m an actress. I've been doing this for 12 years. I’m rejected on a daily basis so I’m well used to it."

But she also admitted that being unceremoniously axed from the NBC show had knocked her confidence.

"I’m not going to say it wasn’t a knock for me because it was – more the fact that it was so public then the job itself. My professional pride was hurt because everyone was saying it was a disaster."

It's this noteworthy misstep that suggests Amy might not have the best discretion when it comes to selecting her roles.

Animal Practice was as abysmal as the New York Times described. It was painful viewing. Impossible to watch without wondering what else you could be doing with your time... like rearranging your sock drawer by colour.

It's not clear why she accepted the role in the first place.

An NBC breakout role might have proved too tempting to resist. Maybe the dazzle of Hollywood's bright lights blinded her judgement?

Actress Amy Huberman, winner of Best Actress in a Lead Role for Rewind, at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2011
Actress Amy Huberman, winner of Best Actress in a Lead Role for Rewind, at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2011

When it comes to movie choices, her compass is just as wobbly.

The Stag (2013) and Rewind (2010) were well received; but the less said about Hallmark tv movie Chasing Leprechauns (2012) the better.

Her latest movie role - 2016's Kill Ratio - didn't fare well with movie critics; being described as a "snooze" by The Hollywood Reporter, "ridiculous" by the Los Angeles Times and scoring just 20pc on movie review site, Rotten Tomatoes.

Another misjudged choice that did nothing to showcase the best of her abilities. One that made me wish she'd dump her agent.

But Irish TV audiences at home have embraced Amy. She's RTE's golden girl.

Amy Huberman and Adrian Pasdar in Hallmark's Chasing Leprechauns (2012)
Amy Huberman and Adrian Pasdar in Hallmark's Chasing Leprechauns (2012)

This year alone she's starred in two hit homegrown shows; a supporting role in Can't Cope Won't Cope and as the lead in Striking Out. The former has been picked up by the BBC and Striking Out bosses are currently negotiating deals for international distribution.

The four-part legal drama, which sees Amy's character Tara quit the law firm owned by her fiancé's father after she discovers he was cheating on her, saw half a million people tune in for its season finale. Throughout its run it benefited from positive critical and word-of-mouth acclaim.

Although it did have its critics (read: me), who felt that the show was a little dull and unimaginative with an over-reliance on inflatable penises in an attempt to be edgy; but Amy turned up and put on a good show.

(L to R) Seana Kerslake, Amy Huberman and Laurence O'Fuarain in RTE Two dramedy Can't Cope Won't Cope
(L to R) Seana Kerslake, Amy Huberman and Laurence O'Fuarain in RTE Two dramedy Can't Cope Won't Cope

Those black mascara tears were real (eat your heart out Lauren Conrad) and I have the sneaking suspicion that if Amy wasn't on the bill, the show wouldn't have pulled in the numbers it did - such is her enduring appeal to RTE audiences.

She's a likeable presence on and off-screen; charismatic, funny, whip-smart and ambitious. And she's worked consistently in the industry for over 16 years after her breakout role in On Home Ground - not an easy feat when you're operating in such a small pond.

She was nominated for an IFTA in 2008, 2009 and 2010 as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Daisy in The Clinic, eventually winning Best Lead Actress in 2011 for the movie Rewind.

Amy even made the leap to British TV with a lead in the Comedy Central sitcom Threesome.

Things started off well and the show received pretty positive reviews but it wasn't commissioned for a third series. The acting was good but the script was weak and it never really lived up to the initial hype of its first series.

But it was a role where Amy really shined. She's a great comedy actress. Her performance as the eccentric art teacher in Moone Boy was another great turn. She does kooky well and has a natural flair for comedy.

This pilot season, I'm rooting for Amy. It would be great to see her land a role that really pushes the boundaries of her craft.

She's been unlucky in the past but maybe she just needs to have a word with her agent (it's okay to say no).

Amy Huberman in Comedy Central's Threesome
Amy Huberman in Comedy Central's Threesome

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